Here’s something you may not know: You can make vinegar from just about any sugary liquid. Sweet tea, fruit juice, even soda—with time and a little bit of effort, they’ll all transform. And before supermarkets brought Heinz and other big brands to the masses, people across the country brewed vinegar at home.
At Comfort, in Richmond, Virginia, chef de cuisine Travis Milton is bringing back a delicious tradition with vinegars made from locally grown ingredients such as turnip greens, tomatoes, and honeydew melon. He isn’t just drawing from the garden, either. Milton glazes wings with a barbecue sauce made from Mountain Dew vinegar, and bakes homemade Cheerwine vinegar into a pie that harks back to the days when Appalachian cooks, lacking citrus, substituted a more common ingredient with a similar bite.
Milton’s vinegar pie, which he tops with a dollop of corncob jelly cream, is a popular dessert at Comfort. His recipe for Cheerwine vinegar makes enough for a season’s worth of pies—with plenty left over for other projects. And if you’re not a fan of Cheerwine, there’s no reason why you can’t use a different soda. Mountain Dew vinaigrette, anyone?